heard on the wire

Sound unheard

bragg-and-henry

During a conversation at a recent work night out, I suggested that there are some records you’ll buy “sight unseen”, or should that be “sound unheard”.

These are the records from artists you implicitly trust no to squander their talent on sprawling, coke-fuelled triple albums. It’s a trust earnt over many years, bought with a succession of LPs and singles that never once truly disappointed.

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I’ve got a socialism of the heart

Billy Bragg Hammersmith

What is it with people who pay upwards of £20 for a ticket and then talk all the way through a gig?

At the recent and otherwise fantastic Billy Bragg show at the Hammersmith Odeon, I had to be restrained by SuziRovers to prevent me having several unaffectionate words with serial offenders regarding their selfishness, bad manners and bare-faced twattishness.

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Home taping is killing music

JVC walkman

I was convinced that it was a flash in the pan, but five years since cassette tapes first began to reappear, their popularity, like that of vinyl, continues to grow.

Ten years ago, the only places where cassettes could be found were in the rotating racks of Hallmark releases in petrol stations, in glove boxes and in attics. They were the epitome of dead technology, only to spring to life again, a wholly surprising phenomenon of nostalgia, hipster cool, anti-piracy and DIY.

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Misanthropic, misbegotten merchants of doom

Talking

We’re scarcely four weeks into 2014 and I’ve already fallen in love with the debut LP from an all-female guitar pop outfit; plus ça change.

The September Girls are five women from Dublin who make the kind of music that should embarrass Louis Walsh into a public apology for all the wrongs he has visited on the reputation of Irish music.

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Leave the light on at the top of the stairs

Killing moon

Nothing makes me feel older than the all-too-real thought that many thousands of people will be going to a nineties night this weekend.

I wasn’t aware that such events even took place until an erstwhile student told me she was going to dance the night away to Oasis and Blur, The Prodigy and The Chemical Brothers, Take That and All Saints. I wasn’t sure who needed the most pity: me for the sudden dawning of mortality or her for having to put up with that lot all night. There’s certainly a great deal to be said for pop fashions being ephemeral—and for alcohol.

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And the bells were ringing out

Bells

A consensus appears to have been reached, if my Facebook and Twitter timelines are at–all reliable indicators, that Kirtsy MacColl and The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York is the greatest of Christmas songs.

As I’ve mentioned before, this blog’s holiday affections lie elsewhere, but we can only be happy that the season’s airwaves are more likely to be filled—and I’m not being sarcastic here—by Shane MacGowan’s beautiful voice than the tuneless drone of the Richard.

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I saw two shooting stars last night

Satellite Dishes

Such is my love for the debut LP by Spain’s When Nalda Became Punk that I’m taking the unprecedented step of blogging a third track from A Farewell to Youth.

The band started as plain Nalda, formed by singer and guitarist Elena Sestelo, but Became Punk with the release of a mini-LP, Time to Meet Your Family, in 2010. Nalda then became two when Elena was joined by Roberto Cibeira.

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Mixing Pop and Politics

There are several Billy Bragg songs that could easily have featured as a song-from-each-year-of-my-life: A New England, Saturday Boy, A Lover Sings and Accident Waiting to Happen to name but four.

But it’s the last great single from the Bard of Barking that is 1988’s choice. A series of smart non-sequiturs set to one of his best tunes, it’s a record I can quite happily listen to over and over again in the vain hope that, yes, the revolution is only a T-shirt away.

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heard on the wire is a blog about music old and new, but mostly new. It occasionally uses 21st century file formats that may not be supported by 20th century web browsers. For best results use Safari or Chrome. And If you like the music posted here, please think of the effort and expense that has gone into making it and consider buying a copy of your own.

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All the music on this site is posted to encourage listeners to enjoy it and then rush out and buy as many songs by the artist as they possibly can. Any artist, record label boss, publisher or other rightsholder who doesn't want their works featured here only needs to get in touch and the offending file(s) will be removed at the earliest opportunity.